Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Miami’ tag

1998-2001 Miami Fusion

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Major League Soccer (1998-2001)

Born: April 9, 1997 – MLS expansion franchise
Folded: January 8, 2002

Stadium: Lockhart Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Ken Horowitz

MLS Cup Championships: None

 

The Miami Fusion were Major League Soccer’s early misfire in the South Florida market. Cellular One founder Ken Horowitz paid a $20 million expansion fee for the club in the spring of 1997. He paid an additional $5 million to renovate Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium into a 20,000-seat soccer-specific venue. The club began play in 1998 with Colombian National Team captain Carlos Valderrama as its top drawing card.

The Fusion stumbled through three losing campaigns. Attendance bottomed out at a league-worst 7,460 per game game in 2000 and the team struggled to attract any corporate sponsorship interest. MLS, which controls all players contracts at the league level, returned the unhappy Valderrama to his original MLS club, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, early in the 1999 season. The Fusion received nothing in return for their top player.

The Fusion’s fortunes revived with the hiring of charismatic former Fort Lauderdale Strikers star Ray Hudson as manager midway through the 2000 season. Hudson and Fusion General Manager Doug Hamilton put a thrilling team on the field in 2001. Newly acquired midfielder Preki dished out assists to forwards Alex Pineda Chacon and Diego Serna, who finished 1-2 in MLS in scoring. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando and fullbacks Carlos Llamosa and Pablo Mastroeni anchored the stout defense. The Fusion earned Major League Soccer’ Supporters Shield with a league best regular season record of 16-5-5. Hudson’s squad was upset by the San Jose Earthquakes in the playoff semi-finals.

Though the Fusion’s attendance rose nearly 4,000 fans during the 2001 campaign, the franchise still ranked at the bottom of MLS in team revenues. Team owner Horowitz grew exhausted with the team’s losses. Major League Soccer contracted the Fusion, along with the similarly trouble Tampa Bay Mutiny club, on January 8th, 2002.

 

Miami Fusion Memorabilia

 

Miami Fusion Video

 

In Memoriam

Former Fusion General Manager Doug Hamilton passed away March 9, 2006. Hamilton was General Manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy at the time and on a flight with the team when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was just 43.

 

Downloads

June 7, 1998 Miami Fusion vs. MetroStars Game Notes

 

Links

Major League Soccer Media Guides

Major League Soccer Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

March 4th, 2017 at 5:19 am

1973-1976 Miami Toros

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Miami Toros ProgramNorth American Soccer League (1973-1976)

Born: 1973 – The Miami Gatos re-brand as the Miami Toros
Moved: 1977 (Fort Lauderdale Strikers)

Stadiums: 

Team Colors: Maroon & White

Owners: Angel Lorie, James Billings, Harper Sibley and Elizabeth Robbie, et al.

NASL Championships: None

 

 

 

Text coming soon…

 

Miami Toros Shop


Toros Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max

Ian Plenderleith’s Definitive Account of “The Short Life & Fast Times of the North American Soccer League

 

Miami Toros Memorabilia

 

Links

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

September 7th, 2016 at 2:07 am

1990-1992 Miami Freedom

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Miami Freedom ProgramAmerican Professional Soccer League (1990-1992)

Born: 1990
Folded: September 1992

Stadium: The Orange Bowl (75,000)

Team Colors: Orange & Green

Owners:

 

The Miami Freedom soccer club was an undistinguished entry in the American Professional Soccer League from 1990 to 1992.  At the time, the APSL represented the highest level of professional soccer in the United States, although it was a far cry from today’s Major League Soccer.  The Freedom, playing in one of the nation’s most apathetic pro sports markets, averaged fewer than 1,000 fans per match in Miami’s 75,000-seat Orange Bowl during their first season in 1990.

Throughout their three-year existence the Freedom had a local APSL rival in the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.  The Strikers commanded considerably more loyalty and attention among Miami’s soccer community due to the legacy of the Strikers name from the North American Soccer League days (1977-1983) and their superior soccer venue at Lockhart Stadium.  At the end of the 1992 season, Freedom owner Amancio Suarez decided that the Strikers were the far more desirable property.  He folded the Freedom in September 1992 and bought controlling interest in the Strikers instead.

 

==Miami Freedom Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1990

1990 5/5/1990 @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers ?? Program
1990 6/3/1990 @ New Jersey Eagles L 4-1 Program Game Notes

1991

1991 6/12/1991 vs. Millonarios (Colombia) L 5-0 Program
1991 8/17/1991 vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers ?? Program

1992

1992 8/4/1992 @ Tampa Bay Rowdies L 4-2 Program

 

==Downloads==

June 3, 1990 Miami Freedom Roster 

 

==Links==

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs

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Written by AC

November 9th, 2013 at 10:21 pm

1985-1991 – Miami Beach Breakers / South Florida Breakers

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World TeamTennis (1985-1991)

Born: 1985 – TeamTennis expansion franchise
Folded: 1991

Stadiums:

  • 1985-1987: Abel Holtz Stadium (5,100)
  • 1986: Boca Grove Plantation
  • 1988: Deer Creek Country Club (as South Florida Breakers)
  • 1989: Wellington Club West (as Wellington Aces)
  • 1990: Abel Holtz Stadium
  • 1991: Turnberry Country Club

Team Colors: Light Blue & Pink

Owners: 

 

The Miami Beach Breakers opened for business in 1985 as an expansion club in Billie Jean King’s TeamTennis promotion under the patronage of Abel Holtz and his family.  Holtz was a Cuban exile banker and philanthropist who built a 5,000-seat tennis stadium for the City of Miami Beach in 1983 that bore his name.  Holtz’s son Javier ran the club and originally clad the team in light blue and pink, “Miami Vice colors” as the younger Holtz explained to The Sun Sentinel shortly after the team’s formation.

TeamTennis wasn’t a particularly desirable destination for pro tour players at the time.  The low budget league offered no base pay, with the league’s 32 players (two men and two women per team for eight member clubs) competing for a $400,000 bonus pool.  The Breakers landed the league’s biggest name by drafting the 15-year old Argentinean sensation Gabriella Sabatini and hiring Sabatini’s coach, Patricio Apey as the team’s coach.  The Breakers’ other female player would be Mercedes Paz, another Argentinean coached by Apey.  But with Sabatini’s star rising by the month, Apey announced that her young protégé would only appear in select TeamTennis matches during the season while continuing to compete in more lucrative and prestigious tour events.  Billie Jean King said the commitment to TeamTennis was all or nothing and kicked Sabatini off the Miami Beach roster, which also cost the Breakers’ the services of Apey and Paz two days before the team’s first season began.

The Breakers returned in 1986 with a few big names for the first and only time in their history.  Romanian legend Ilie Nastase hired on as player-coach and Rosie Casals and Tim Gullikson offered some name appeal for South Florida tennis aficionados.

The Breakers averaged fewer than 1,000 fans per match in Miami Beach in both 1985 and 1986.  The Holtz family sold the team after the 1987 season, which coincided with a complicated series of moves, name changes and franchise shifts under new owner Carl Foster.  Foster first moved the team to Deerfield Beach in 1988, renaming the team the “South Florida Breakers“.  In 1989, Foster moved north again, this time to Wellington and the team became known as the Wellington Aces.  TeamTennis returned to Miami Beach and Abel Holtz Stadium in 1990 with a new team known as the Breakers, even as the Wellington Aces continued to exist.

As I write this, I can’t imagine anyone would remotely care about these distinctions.  Anyway, it ceased to matter at the end of the 1991 season when both the Aces and Breakers franchises went out of business.

 

==Links==

World Team Tennis Media Guides

World Team Tennis Programs

 

==Additional Sources==

“Breakers May Leave Miami Beach”, Alain Poupart, The Miami News, August 4, 1986

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1980 Miami Americans

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American Soccer League (1980)

Born: 1980 – The New Jersey Americans relocate to Miami, FL.
Folded: Postseason 1980.

Stadium: Tropical Park

Team Colors:

Owners: Barry Leighton-Jones & Stanley Worshore

ASL Championships: None

 

At the end of the 1979 North American Soccer League (NASL) season, Fort Lauderdale Strikers owner Elizabeth Robbie fired Head Coach Ron Newman.  Newman had led the Strikers to three consecutive playoff appearances and was the NASL’s all-time winningest coach.  But the Robbie family invested big dollars to bring international stars Gerd Muller and Teofilo Cubillas to South Florida. They were not satisfied with a first round playoff exit.

Newman’s novel response was to recruit investors and drop a 2nd Division American Soccer League (ASL) franchise right in the Robbies’ back yard at Miami’s Tropical Park for the 1980 season.  Newman’s partners were Barry Leighton-Jones, an ex-pat English artist who carved out a niche painting clowns, and Stanley Worshore, a Ft. Lauderdale businessman.  The trio purchased the ASL’s New Jersey Americans in early 1980 and moved the franchise south, sans most of its players and staff.  Newman signed on as President/Head Coach for a record-setting $200,000 per year. It was an outlandish salary for the ever wobbly ASL, where most clubs were thrilled to draw 3,000 fans per match.

The Miami Americans‘ big signing was 28-year old Haitian striker Manu Sanon.  Sanon starred for Haiti in the 1974 World Cup, scoring against both Argentina and Italy.  The Americans agreed to a $100,000 transfer fee to import him from Beerschot of the Belgian first division. The Americans then handed Sanon the fattest contract in the ASL, variously reported as $400,000 for the 1980 campaign or $500,000 over three seasons.

The season went sideways immediately.  Compared to the Strikers, the Americans were invisible in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale region.  The Strikers averaged 14,729 fans at Lockhart Stadium that summer.  The Americans struggled to get 2,000 at Tropical Park.  Ron Newman, the franchise front man, quit the club on June 19th after only a handful of matches, apparently sensing a sinking ship.  Newman soon hooked on with the San Diego Sockers of the NASL, taking over their vacant Head Coach position in mid-season.

Six days later, the cash-strapped Americans owners  announced the sale of the team to a pair of shady Rhodesians, Stan Noah and Archie Oliver.  But the deal collapsed over who would be responsible for the club’s existing debt. The Rhodesians then began poking around two other financially distressed ASL clubs – the Columbus Magic and the Sacramento Gold.  In the end, Noah and Oliver turned out to be tire-kickers. All three teams folded before the year was out.

Manu Sanon soon followed Newman to San Diego of the NASL, walking out the door in July.  The Americans, who couldn’t afford the installment payments on the transfer fee owed to his former Belgian club, were relieved to be out from under his monster contract.  The team limped along in acute financial distress. The team occasionally playing with as few as two bench players to avoid signing replacements for injured players.  The Americans managed to make it to the finish line in September, finishing the 1980 season with a 10-15-3 record. They folded quietly shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, Ron Newman’s odd rivalry with his former club continued.   After taking over the San Diego Sockers in midseason, he led the team deep into the 1980 NASL playoffs until they reached the semi-final series against none other than the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.   The Strikers defeated Newman’s Sockers to advance to Soccer Bowl ’80.  But Newman would go on to turn the Sockers into an indoor soccer dynasty, winning eight indoor soccer championships between 1983 and 1992.

 

Miami Americans Shop

American Soccer League Logo T-Shirt by Ultras

 

In Memoriam

Americans striker Manu Sanon died of pancreatic cancer on February 21, 2008 at age 56.

Former Americans owner Barry Leighton-Jones died on November 20, 2011.

 

Links

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs

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